The Wild Story of Alex’s Giant Buck

I am excited to share today’s story with you!  My buddy, Alex, is a hard-working hunter that had an opportunity to hunt Kansas this year.  His hunt didn’t go as planned, and he faced some pretty wild situations, but perseverance and luck proved to be a deadly combo, and he was able to tag a giant buck!

Alex Tagle's KS Buck

“With desperation, I reached for the cord and pulled my gear up as fast and as carefully as I could.  Of course, my bow hit my climbing sticks, which made quite a bit of noise, but something unexplainable occurred – this old, wise, and mature buck let me get away with it.”

Read the story at WiredToHunt.com

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The Highs and Lows of Hunting, Part II – Missing The Point, And The Shot

Continued from Part I…

Saturday morning, the opening of Missouri’s rifle season, was a bit of a revelation.  I was feeling pretty discouraged after hunting hard for several days, but seeing very few deer and failing to have a single shot opportunity.

I have invested a lot of time, energy, and focus into this hunting season, but it has failed to produce what I expected.  That is the problem, isn’t it?  Investment is a risk, not a guarantee.  Sometimes you reap far less than you sow; hunting is no exception.

My Place To Reflect

When you invest your time, energy, and emotions into something, it not only increases the chances that you will accomplish what you’ve worked for, it also increases the odds that you will encounter disappointment.

The more you invest, the more you expect.  The more you expect, the easier it is to become dissatisfied.

I realized that I had invested too much into my hunting success – not in terms of practicing, or scouting, or time spent hunting – but too much in terms of meaning.  I had taken hunting too seriously.

Expectations spoiled hunting.  It wasn’t fun, enjoyable, or relaxing; it was tiring and stressful.    Hunting had only become this way because I had let it.  I don’t have to stress or obsess.   I could just hunt for the enjoyment of hunting.

Sunday – A new day, a new mindset.

I was back in the woods on Sunday, which was Veteran’s Day, and my late Grandfather’s birthday.  I sat at the base of a tree, clutching my Grandpa’s rifle, remembering him and doing exactly what he would have been doing if he were here with us.  His legacy lives.

I set up in a new spot – a saddle on a high ridge – hoping to catch a buck that was seeking a doe or fleeing from the massive force of orange that invades during firearm season.

The first hour of daylight passed with no activity to speak of.  I carefully scanned my surroundings and decided that it was safe to stretch my legs, so I rose to my feet.  As soon as my feet planted on the steep slope I heard a crash behind me.

Hunting is chaos.  Hours, or in my case, days of idleness, disrupted in a second by a sudden eruption of activity.

What happened over the next few seconds was one of those experiences seems to occur in an instant, and at the same time in a way where time seems to stand still.  These moments are like an out of body experience, not in some mystic sense, but simply because your mind and body react faster than your conscious can reason.  It was as if I didn’t choose my actions, but observed them from a distance.

Hunting with Grandpa's Rifle

The crash that I heard was caused from a hard-charging buck.  He was quickly making his way from my right and rear, crossing towards me at a rapid pace.

Instinct took over.  I quickly dropped to my knee and identified a shooting lane, while at the same time raising my rifle up to my shoulder and attempting to put the buck in the crosshair of my scope.  I let out a mouth bleat, which did nothing to slow this buck down.  Once more, I let out a bleat – this time even louder than I expected.  The buck’s steps slowed momentarily, but I could tell he wasn’t content to stop and question what disturbed nature’s silence.

My crosshair, his shoulder – that is all I recall.  I don’t remember the recoil or the bark of the .30-30 erupting.  The buck didn’t kick or stumble.  He stopped fully, spooked by the commotion, and then quickly retreated.

The moment was over.  My conscious caught up with my instincts at the final second, before the buck disappeared into the dense forest.  The shot hadn’t been lethal, nor had it been dangerous – it was meaningless.  A clean miss.

One shot opportunity in six long days of hunting and I blew it.  I waited dozens upon dozens of hours for that moment, but I didn’t capitalize on the opportunity.  It was a difficult shot – hurried, unsupported, and kneeling, while trying to slow the escaping buck – but regardless of the shot’s difficulty, missing is not an easy thing to accept.

The day before I had decided to embark upon a more lighthearted approach to hunting, but in this moment my heart was anything but light.

I couldn’t help but feel as if I squandered the hours I spent away from my family.  I sent a text to my wife…

“Just missed a nice buck.  He was moving through so fast.  I am so sick with myself right now!  I am sorry.  I can’t believe I wasted this shot after all of this time.”

Her response showed me that she gets it, and apparently I still don’t.

“Not a big deal!  Just remember to enjoy being outside in the woods.  When you make it just about what you kill, instead of enjoyment, then it is not worth it.”

I learned a lesson on Saturday.  I needed to learn that lesson again on Sunday.

All of life is a matter of perspective.  What matters most isn’t what happens; what truly matters is how we respond to it.

The Highs and Lows of Hunting, Part I: Dear Deer, Where Are You?

I went into this season knowing full well that it was an experiment.  I was trying new tactics, such as hunting from the ground a lot more, as well as using a mobile treestand setup.  More than anything though, the experiment wasn’t about how I hunted, but where I hunted.

Last year I gained access to a property that is really close to home.  I had success as soon as I began hunting it, in late October of 2011.  It is always exciting to go into a new property, and with no prior scouting, kill a deer on your first hunt.  I hunted this property again a few times in early November and saw a lot of rutting action.  Over this past year I used the off-season to learn the property, get a better idea of what deer it held, and understand how they used the land for water, feed, and bed, as well as the travel routes.

Going into this fall I was confident that I was going to have a great season.  After all, I knew this guy was hanging around, as well as a few other decent bucks.  I did have some concerns though.  The coyote activity was more than I liked to see, and though I came close on a few occasions, I wasn’t able to do my part in controlling that population.  I was also a bit worried about the number of does that I was seeing; there were very few.

Fall Sunrise

I’ll skip recapping the early season, which I have written about already, and jump straight to the past couple of weeks – the magical time for every whitetail hunter – November.  I set aside a lot of time to hunt early this month, which is difficult for me to do.  This is always a very busy time at work, and taking any amount of time away from my wife and two small kids is always hard.  Nevertheless, I’ve been able to hunt 7 out of the last 10 days.

Seven days of hunting in early November…it doesn’t get any better!  To say that I was excited going in to this stretch of hunting would be a massive understatement.  To say that, now, on the other side of all of this hunting, that I am disappointed, wouldn’t even begin to describe things.

Horrible weather, interruptions, trespassers…I’ve experienced a lot of challenges over the past couple of weeks of hunting.  What I haven’t experienced, however, was many encounters with deer; they seemed to have vanished.  The pre-rut?…There were no signs to be seen.  The rut?…It didn’t happen.  Bucks cruising, chasing, pushing does?  Nope.  Speaking of does, there were none.

There are a lot of reasons that I think I experienced this and there are a lot of lesson that I learned.  I will definitely spell it all out, but for now I want to continue telling this story, because it isn’t over.

It is about to get better…and then worse.

Read Part II…

My Huntography Experience

Me on Huntography

“So this guy, Rudy, is driving across the country just to film you hunt?”

“Yeah, Dad,” I answered, “Well, not just me, but several other deer hunters throughout the country.”

“And you’ve never met him?”

“No, not in ‘real’ life, anyway.”

The only response that my Dad could muster at that point was, “Huh.”

Assessing a Massive Rub

It is pretty difficult to sum up my Huntography experience in a quick blog post. After all, the story isn’t over yet.  Rudy is still on the road, with experiences that have yet to be captured, compiled, edited, mastered and then delivered as a documentary about everyday deer hunter’s across the country, including me.

The hunting that Rudy and I experienced over the two days that he was filming was far from what I expected.  Although it was early November, there was little sign of rutting or pre-rut activity.  Movement was nearly non-existent, the weather was a challenge, and we dealt with some crazy interruptions.  (You’ll have to wait and see the DVD.)

Scanning From My Treestand

I didn’t see all the footage that Rudy captured and I don’t know how everything will come across in the end, but I’m proud of the experience that Rudy and I shared together.  It was genuine.  The problems that we faced are things that all hunters face, yet hunting shows ignore.

We took the challenge of bad weather and made it an adventure by moving our hunting to the ground and stalking our way through the woods, which lead to some very close calls, but ultimately I didn’t get to let an arrow fly.

Stalking A Doe

I am not a big fan of hearing myself talk or seeing myself on video (which is why I hide behind the written word), but it will be cool to look back at my experience in 5, 10, or 20 years and watch it on DVD.

The idea of Huntography is special.  The people who are featured on Huntography are special.  But what makes Huntography really special is the guy behind the camera.  Rudy takes his vacation time, away from work and family, and he invests it in telling the stories of us.  The hunting industry (and the world for that matter) is full of people that want to talk about themselves, see themselves, and be in the center of what’s happening.  Rudy, however, sacrifices his time and energy to step behind the scenes and to capture our stories.

Thank you, Rudy.

Huntography isn’t a video project; it is a movement.  Just wait, you’ll see.

Big News! I Have Joined The Elite Archery Pro Staff

Last summer I was approached by one of the biggest bow manufacturers in the country with an offer to do some writing for them, as well as join their field staff.  It was a generous offer and I was humbled by the opportunity.  I ended up declining the offer for several reasons; one of my main reasons was the fact that I just didn’t want to give up shooting my Elite bow.  I was so happy with my Elite that I couldn’t put it down, even for an amazing, free gear package from another well-respected bow maker.

Elite Archery

I made the decision that shooting Elite meant more to me than the status, exposure, and free gear that would have come with this other deal.  It was actually a very easy decision, even though it meant giving up some good opportunities.

Turning down that offer ended up being a great decision, because now I have been given the opportunity to join the Elite Archery Factory Pro Staff for 2013!

I can’t tell you how honored and humbled I am to have this opportunity.  I am excited, not because of the perks or the title, but because I will now have the opportunity to represent a brand that I truly believe in.  I am looking forward to working consumer shows and dealer events and helping other archers and bowhunters take the Elite “Shootability Challenge“.

Elite Archery has an amazing lineup for 2013, including a complete redesign of their Hunter, as well as some awesome updates to some of their 2012 bow models, including the Answer, Pure, Pulse, and others.

Elite Archery

Check out the full Elite lineup and learn more about what makes an Elite bow, an Elite bow.